Saturday, October 24, 2009

59 Field Squadron - Re-formation - 15th May 1963

June 1961
The Squadron returned to Chatham and run down to a Cadre, the Squadron Staff were amalgamated with B Sqn of the Depot Regiment to form 59 SME in Brompton Barraks, with Major HP Cunningham assuming command of the Squadron.

July 1962
59 SME Squadron granted the Royal title, now becamr 59 RSME Sqn.

December 1962
The Squadron was re-titled 36 RSME Sqn.

1st April 1963
36 RSME Squadron formed up as part of 36 Corps Engineer Regiment at Maidstone – Invicta Barracks.
Major Christopher A Bramwell assumed command of the Squadron.

15th May 1963 Shorncliffe
36 RSME Squadron was re-titled 59 Field Squadron and reformed at Ross Barracks in Shorncliffe, Kent.
John Hamnett and others were posted into 59 Sqn from 20 Sqn based at Maidstone.
Lads were posted direct from Sapper Training to 59 Sqn.
Trevor Letford and Ken Jones were part of 36 RSME, posted in from Gordon Bks, Gillingham.
Trevor and Ken moved from Support Troop in Gordon Bks, to 1 Troop in 59 Sqn.

Training was carried out at the Old Guards Barracks on Thetford Ranges, sleeping in old WW2 Nissan huts. Each hut had 3 x Upright wood burning stoves, along the length of the hut; these stoves never produced much heat, only taking the chill off the room.
I.S. training was carried out, but most of the lads can only recall "Move, stop, dig-in, fill-in, move, stop, dig-in, fill-in and so on". "It felt more like 'escape & evasion' training for Colditz"!!
A few lads had money stolen from their lockers, we had a 'Tea-leaf' in the Barracks.
With the whole Squadron paraded and 'Yakker' Yates out front, pacing up and down, his stick tapping the ground. he halts in the centre of the line, chest puffed out "Gentlemen" he bellowed, "it appears we have a Tea-leaf, WHEN I catch him and I WILL catch him, I will personally peg him out on this parade ground and MARCH the SQUADRON over him" and he seriously meant every word.
This resulted in the end of the "Tea-leaf".
During that year, 59 Field Squadron undertook Engineering tasks in N. Ireland and Monorbier on the South Wales coast amongst others.
The Ulster project involved engineering support to trialling equipment in development on Loch Neagh.
Trials took place at the River Bann - Toome Bridge - later to become a notorious place.
Various amphibious Tanks were trialled, from snorkelling tanks to swimming tanks, swimming 432's and Stalwarts, plus a few original designs that never appeared again.
It was 59's task to maintain the exit sites, which were a sea of mud, covered with matting. the Squadron also operated a Heavy Ferry, to move tanks around on the river.
A Coles crane caused chaos, when it slid off the PSP planking, its rear wheels stuck in the river and under the PSP planking, requiring a tracked ARV to recover it.
At the end of the trials, the QNSI at Portadown, was not pleased, when the Matting - or what was left of it, was returned in pieces.

The Monorbier project involved building concrete steps down a sheer cliff face, to access a sheltered cove in a rocky coastline.
The purpose of these steps, was to allow RAF families living in married quarters on top of the cliff, to enjoy what is known as ‘liesure time’ on the beach below.

The White Cliff's Exercise, headed by Lt. Hilary Nash and his Troop.
The object was to block two Tunnels running into the Cliff, built during WW2, to stop adventurous children getting hurt or becoming trapped by the rising tide.
Using damaged sections of Bailey Bridge Chesses, which were lowered down the Cliff by ropes, to be used to block the hidden tunnels.
The only access to the tunnels, were via the beach, with a walk round the headland to the tunnels. As the headland was submerged by sea during the incoming tide, a Sapper was 'posted' to watch the tide returning.
Cpl Garth was the Section Commander and quickly got the work underway.
Either the Officer failed to allot enough time, or the work took longer than planned, plus the Sapper never raised the alarm (possibly because he became involved in the work), but the tide returned. Causing the Troop to wade waist deep round the headland to the path up the Cliff and safety.
Some say the Coastguard was alerted to the Troop being cut-off by the tide, this may be true, yet the Coastguard did not attend the scene.

The Squadron lined the route in London, for the visit of the King & Queen of Greece.
Drill was carried out, for the marching out and taking position, over-seen by 'Yakker' Yates, many still recall 'Yaker' going balistic when it went wrong during practice.

A further drill, using fixed Bayonets, followed by a March through Folkstone, with fixed Bayonets??

The Squadron also undertook Winter Warfare Training in Aviemore & Cairngorms, with 34 Sqn.
Staying in the old British Legion Hut on the outskirts of Aviemore and drinking in the Aviemore Hotel.
On top of Ben Mac Dui, a Troop got 'lost' and had to ask School Children for directions back down, oh! the shame!
Camping out at night, digging holes in the snow, before erecting our bivvy's and sleeping on rock hard ground.
The lads had fun on the 'Kamikasi' ski-lift, making their way to the top of the White Lady slope, then 'launching' themselves straight down the slope, no traversing, a "do or die" straight route down. When approaching any rocks or solid objects, throw themselves sideways, in a Para Roll to avoid hitting them, or at the bottom - to avoid a ducking in the stream.
The Instructors were going 'spare' at our antics, they had never taught squaddies before.!!
The lads thought they looked good, in their oversize Parka's, complete with bum warmers, until they saw 'posers' on the slope, but ignored them, they were not having as much fun as the lads!!
One lad (half Indian called Tojo - Radio Op) fell and broke his legs, the lads gathered around, watched by the civilians. The civilians were amazed when one lad pulled Tojo's Cigs out of his pocket, lit one for Tojo and promptly handed the packet to the other lads, without helping Tojo, well, that was a Medics job!
Tojo was put in a 3 Tonner, but it ran out of Petrol, just before Aviemore and the lads had to push the truck over a steep hill, to the nearest garage.

December 1963
The OC with a small advance party, left for Singapore.
Boarding RAF VC10's, arrived just in time for the Chinese riots.

January 1964
The Squadron flew out to Singapore on VC10's.

No comments:

Post a Comment